North Bend Elementary Second Graders Provide Insight for Use in Housing Action Plan

At the February 15th award ceremony, Betsy Westra, a student in Ms. Mitchell’s class, was celebrated as the North Bend Elementary (NBE) Your Home drawing contest winner. Betsy was one of 37 second graders at NBE who participated.

According to North Bend Public Information Officer Bre Keveren, City consultant Blueline Group came up with the idea to collaborate with local elementary schools.

Keveren said that they often work on housing plans, and their goal for North Bend’s Housing Action Plan is to “tell the story” by putting faces to the housing issues our community faces. The contest is a great way to understand the multi-generational impact of those issues better.

From left, first row: Estelle De Libran, Betsy Westra, Piper Schneider, and Josephine Murphy. Second row: Teacher Megan Mitchell, City Communications Manager Bre Keveren, City Principal Planner Mike McCarty, Teacher Janee Smith.

City staff, civil engineering firm Blueline Group, and Principal Stephanie Shepherd asked students to draw their visions of an ideal home, concentrating on the most important aspects. Students described their ideal homes as safe, comfortable, happy, and loving.

Teachers Janee Smith and Megan Mitchell’s second-grade classes shared examples that showcased a wide array of housing needs, with lots of windows, plants, families, chimneys, lighting, and even a few rainbows. Also recognized were the following student finalists: Piper Schneider and Josephine Murphy in Smith’s class, and Estelle De Libran, in Mitchell’s class.

“We don’t all have the same context of family,” Principal Planner Mike McCarty shared with students. “Some of us have big families and need more room, and some of us have smaller families.”

“A home is a place we all know we can be loved and safe,” Betsy Westra Contest winner.

Betsy’s winning reflection on Home will be incorporated into the City’s Housing Action Plan (HAP). The HAP is a policy document outlining how to meet North Bend’s diverse housing needs in a way that supports everyone, with a goal to enable a broad variety of housing types and price points, helping to address the local and regional housing shortage and affordability gap. It is an essential part of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and will be supported by data and public input. Stay tuned for the HAP in June 2023.

In addition to this contest, the city collaborated in the past with Opstad and North Bend Elementary to name a snowplow. Recently the city completed a collaborative filming project with Mount Si High School.

Students in Joe Dockery’s MSHS graphic design class produced four videos for the inaugural North Bend Citizens Academy. Students interviewed Parks, Planning, and Economic Development Commissioners and City Attorney Lisa Marshall. The videos are being shared in the new seven-week course on local government.

The city invites parents to provide input as well. Please consider sharing your feedback on housing needs in North Bend by participating in a short North Bend Housing Action Plan Survey. Your voice is crucial and will help shape the future of housing in town.

Following the survey, the city invites you to participate in a Housing Action Plan Open House, on Wednesday, March 1st, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the North Bend City Hall, located at 920 SE Cedar Falls Way.

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